APWA President joins release of California infrastructure grades

Becky Wickstrom
Manager of Media Affairs
APWA Washington Office

During a press conference in September, APWA President Bill Verkest joined local members and leaders from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to release an assessment of California's infrastructure. Like the 2005 National Infrastructure Report Card, the 2006 Report Card for California's Infrastructure highlights the need for renewed investment in and attention to the state's crumbling and overburdened infrastructure systems necessary to maintain California's economic competitiveness and a positive quality of life in local communities.

Overall, California's infrastructure received a C- and the report card identified an annual investment need of $37 billion required to raise the grade to a B. Nine areas of critical infrastructure were assessed:

  • Aviation: C-
  • Levees/Flood Control: F
  • Parks & Open Spaces: D+
  • Ports: C+
  • Solid Waste: B
  • Transportation: D+
  • Urban Runoff: D+
  • Wastewater: C+
  • Water: C+

"In California we are falling behind in the maintenance and upgrades of our roads and transit systems, utilities, drinking water and wastewater systems," said Verkest during the press conference. "These vital services often go unnoticed until disaster strikes or until they fail beyond repair. We must reinvest in public works infrastructure."

Pictured from left to right: Mike Kincaid, Co-chair of the California Infrastructure Report Card (CAIRC) Committee; Bill Verkest, APWA President; Dennis Martenson, 2005/06 ASCE National President; Bob Bein, 2000 ASCE National President; Yazdan Emrani, Co-chair of the CAIRC Committee; and Joyce Copeland, President of ASCE Sacramento Section.

The report card findings are intended to remind citizens and civic leaders in California that investments need to be made and improvements must continue for job growth and a strong economy. As infrastructure ages and population continues to grow, adequate investment will become even more essential.

"The single biggest challenge we have as public works professionals is sustaining infrastructure performance—maintaining what we have in service while we plan for renewal, replacement and expansion of our critical facilities, plants and systems," said Verkest. "Investment in public infrastructure generates economic benefits to communities, including jobs, more efficient transportation and a better quality of life."

"The state needs to allocate $370 billion over the next 10 years, $37 billion annually, to improve California's overall C- grade up to a B grade," said Mike Kincaid, Co-chair of the California Infrastructure Report Card (CAIRC) Committee. "The Report Card has captured the media's attention and compelled the legislators in Sacramento to be more proactive in supporting the infrastructure bond measures on the November 7, 2006 ballots."

During the November election, California voters face several ballot issues totaling $42.7 billion for infrastructure improvements.

For more information about the 2006 Report Card for California's Infrastructure, visit www.ascecareportcard.org.

Becky Wickstrom can be reached at (202) 218-6736 or bwickstrom@apwa.net.